On Sun Xu, and what the real problem is

Recently, there has been a big uproar in Singapore over the comments of a particular Chinese scholar, Sun Xu. This was mainly due to his comments that there “being more dogs than humans in Singapore.”, which sparked uproar amongst Singaporeans, with there being many calls for his scholarship to be revoked, amongst other stuff.

PAP MP Baey Yam Keng, offered his views on the matter, saying that scholarships should be based on merit, and NOT nationality. He is absolutely right to say that. But, there is one main problem that he missed out, which is what based on merit exactly means. We see many scholars amongst us, with no real skill other than the ability to mug and mug, to memorise the textbook and give ‘perfect’ answers for exam, and yet, when they graduate, they are unable to do anything that is really useful. These people have no real skills in the real world. How then, can their scholarships be based on merit?

Now, I am not saying that all foreign scholars have no skills. There are those who do. There are those who have shown their skills, by contributing to the local economy, such as the creators of Huntville. Those people deserve their scholarships.

The problem comes in when the rest, those who have no real skills, other than mugging get the rest of the scholarships. If ability to mug is something of merit, then I have nothing more to say. But the Singapore government has repeatedly said that they want Singapore to progress into a creative economy. They have tried to encourage more creativity here. Surely the right way to go ahead is not to do what they have been doing for the past 20 years, offering scholarships to drones. They should be offering scholarships to people with passion, and the drive to progress, not people who are geniuses at following instructions.

Just my 2 cents.

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3 thoughts on “On Sun Xu, and what the real problem is

  1. If Sun Xu is so unhappy in Singapore, please go back to China and don’t come back! However, before that please pay back all the scholarship money that Sinmgapore has given to you, you ungrateful goon doo!

  2. While Sun Xu’s remark is unpleasant, I don’t think the underlying situation that is far from the truth.

    Scholarships have to be awarded before a student engages in creative and entrepreneurial activities, before they become successes, before they prove their mettle. The only sensible way of doing this is to use an indicator, and academic performance is a reasonable indicator.

    To avoid giving scholarships to student’s who only know how to mug, you only have 2 options.

    1. Eliminate scholarships altogether and replace it with something like an award given to students who are meritorious during their course of study. But this will mean potentially deserving students must not only be creative, smart and hardworking, but also risk taking. You can arguing that being risk seeking is a good behavior, but I’d like to point out that we also want to give scholarships to students who will not be willing to take the risk to take a loan, get out of their home country and come here.

    2. We find a better way to assess the quality of applicants. This often means testimonials from respected sources, which are usually too few if we want to be sure, or too unsubstantiated if we loosen the criteria. Other means of assessment that does not involve cold hard academic records would simply be just as subjective and “unfair”.

    In short, what we have is already probably the best we can do. We just have to take the risk of awarding scholarships to pure-muggers.

    Can you think of a way around this?

  3. In fact we don’t know if Sun Xu got here just by the ability to mug exams. Maybe he’s truly intelligent in a certain field, but out of touch with reality. To say he got here due to no special talent is making an assumption based on the little thing we know about him.

    What I do agree with though is that it’s all about how “merit” is defined. It’s easy to just look at grades. But it’s not going to bring the right breed of people to Singapore.

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